MARCH AIR CADET PUTS BEST FOOT FORWARD

Alfie Jaggard (16), an air cadet from 1220 (March) Squadron, has recently returned triumphant after completed the gruelling 100 mile Nijmegen road march in Holland.

Alfie Jaggard with his Nijmegan badge

Alfie Jaggard with his Nijmegan badge

The “Vierdaagse” (Dutch for “four-day event”) is an annual walk that has taken place since 1909, and has been based at Nijmegen since 1916. There are different routes to take part in, with Alfie and his team completing 100 miles over four days. Numbers have risen in recent years, with over 40,000 taking part; it is now the world’s largest walking event. Many participants take part every year, including several that have taken part in 50, and even 60 different annual marches.

Each day of the marches is named after the biggest town it goes through. Tuesday is the day of Elst, Wednesday the day of Wijchen, Thursday the day of Groesbeek and Friday the day of Cuijk. On the Friday, as participants near the finish, spectators award the walkers with gladioli, a symbol of force and victory since Roman times.

Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing takes part in the marches every year and 2014 proved to be yet another successful year, with everyone completing the route and earning the coveted “Vieradaagse Kruis” medal. During their time in Holland, the team was able to pay its respect to those that lost their lives in Operation Market Garden, laying a wreath at the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery.

The success was the culmination of eight months of intense training including completion of the Waendel Walk, which takes place in the area around Wellingborough covering over 52 miles.

Team leader Flight Sergeant (ATC) Alan Starling, who completed the marches for a fifth time, said “The team has found the training programme challenging, everyone has put a huge amount of effort into their own performances and supporting others in the team. As a result everyone completed the route and can wear their Nijmegen Medal with great pride.”

Alfie said, “I’m so proud to have completed the walk and look forward to next year. I would highly recommend it.”